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 Buscador de Noticias
Norte Am. 10/05/2024

EEUU: Potatoes will remain classified as a vegetable, not a grain, Collins says

Spuds won’t be considered a starch following protests from more than a dozen senators.

Adam Paterson, 15, kicks a potato back onto an enormous pile at a storage facility in Mapleton, Maine, Sept. 25, 2014. Each year the state harvests ar

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she received assurances Wednesday that potatoes will not be reclassified as a grain, a move she feared would give the impression that one of Maine’s key crops is unhealthy.

Collins said she had received a call from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to relay the news following concerns about reclassification raised by both a group of bipartisan senators and the National Potato Council.

“The reclassification of potatoes would have sent a false message to the public that the USDA believes that potatoes are not healthy. The fact is, when prepared properly, the potato is a wonderfully nutritious food that is affordable, easy to transport, has a long storage life, and can be used in a wide array of recipes,” Collins said in a statement.

“I am pleased Secretary Vilsack called me personally to tell me that the USDA has no intention of reclassifying potatoes and recognizes that potatoes are, in fact, a vegetable.”

The concern over the specifications for the tubers comes as the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is preparing its report for the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop dietary guidelines.

The National Potato Council feared discussions included “the interchangeability of starchy vegetables and grains.”

USDA said in a statement Thursday the idea was not under discussion.

“As we have previously conveyed, the Secretary reiterated to the Senator that there is no intent and no effort underway to reclassify potatoes as a grain, nor are there analyses singling out potatoes,” the agency said in a statement.

The advisory committee provides independent, science-based recommendations to the USDA and HHS secretaries to help inform their development of the dietary guidelines.

Collins said Thursday she hopes the HHS will “follow the USDA’s lead and recognize the same reality.”

While often associated with blueberries and lobster, Maine is a potato powerhouse. The state is among the top 10 potato producers in the country, growing nearly $300 million worth of the crop last year.

Collins noted the crop’s nutritious value Thursday, stressing that the vegetable is full of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber.

Still, state statistics indicate “65 percent of Maine potatoes are used for processed foods like French fries and potato chips.”

In a March letter, Collins, alongside colleagues, wrote that if potatoes were reclassified, “consumers would miss out on vital nutrients” while the move would “confuse consumers, retailers, restaurant operators, growers, and the entire supply chain.”

The lawmakers also noted that school lunch programs already struggle to meet vegetable consumption guidelines affordably.

This is not the first time that the classification of vegetables and nutrition standards for school meals have come under scrutiny. In 2011, when the USDA proposed a limit of two servings of starchy vegetables a week, the potato industry fought back, with the backing of senators from potato-growing states. The Senate approved a measure blocking the USDA from imposing caps.

Similarly, that year, the USDA proposal said tomato paste on pizza did not count toward issuing limits to weekly vegetable consumption standards, but the Senate fought back and approved a measure to block that proposal.

Fuente: https://thehill.com/homenews/4637319-potatoes-classified-vegetable-not-grain-susan-collins/

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